At Bates College, an active shooter alert Wednesday night interrupted a dorm birthday party.
The alarm, around 8 p.m., prompted Mavy Le, 19, and 11 of her friends to take the elevator to a higher floor. Instinct told them to climb to higher ground and away from the window.
“We huddled together and waited for more news,” Ms. Le said in an interview early Thursday.
The ban remained in effect overnight for Lewiston, Me., and the 1,800 students at Bates College, a small liberal arts institution there.
The emergency order left some students and staff on campus unable to return home, the university said in a statement. The threat of an active shooter on the loose also forced the school to cancel classes Thursday.
“We know these events have shocked and frightened our community,” the college’s vice president, Geoffrey Swift, said in a statement.
As Ms. Le waited for news in her dorm room, her family in the Portland, Me., area checked in with her periodically, she said.
Around 1:30 a.m., she tried to distract herself from the anxious situation by studying for exams and doing her homework – although it was not easy for her to focus, she said.
“My shades are completely down,” she said. “I try not to look outside.”
David He, 20, said the alarm left him trapped in his classroom, where he had a club meeting.
“I backed myself into a corner and hoped things would get better,” he said. He and his friends read the news on their phones, listened to police scanners, called their families and texted friends, he continued. “We were really worried and paranoid.”
Mr. He decided after a while to rush to his room in a nearby dormitory. When he arrived safely, he locked the door behind him, pulled down the blinds, and turned off the lights.
“I consider myself lucky to be sleeping in my own bed tonight,” he said in an interview around 2:30 a.m., though he added that he may have trouble sleeping as long as the gunman is at large. “The adrenaline is still there.”